In contrast, on Tuesday the 24-year-old singer and songwriter Frank Ocean, a member of the loose collective Odd Future, which has been rightly criticized for the violently anti-gay and misogynistic raps of some of its members, particularly Tyler the Creator (cf. "Yonkers"), bravely posted on his Tumblr page a two-paragraph letter--who says this ancient form no longer has relevance or power!?--letting the world know that his first love was a man he'd met when they were both 19 years old, and that that experience, however complicated and painful in some ways, however unreciprocal and difficult, had been transformative for him. Ocean did not use the word "gay" or any similar term, preferring instead simply to state for the record that the relationship had existed, what it meant and continues to mean for him, thanking hte unnamed beloved and letting him know that because of it he felt and "feel[s] like a free man." In other words, he acknowledged his queerness by acknowledging the truth of his life, and no labels were nor are necessary, though this did not prevent media outlets, Twitterers and Facebookers, and a good many of everybody else stating that he was "gay" or "bisexual" or trying to pin a label on him.
|Ocean's letter, from his Tumblr page|
|Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean (© Getty Images)|
I praise his courage and his candor, and urge others who can and are able to follow his lead to do so, just as I praise those like Cooper who have already got the world by their fingertips and decide to step out, be out, open up. I also urge all who can work to change the laws, here and abroad, that foment homophobia--which, as Barbara Smith, Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Audre Lorde, and countless other visionaries have in their various ways noted lies at the core of nearly all anti-gay activity--and that foster oppression and inequality to do so, because by doing both, as he suggests, we all might be on the road to being "free."